Qualcomm is sharpening its WiFi edge by striking a deal to acquire WiFi silicon vendor Atheros for $3.2 billion, or $45 per share.
Through this acquisition, Qualcomm not only gains Atheros' WiFi knowledge, but also its expertise in home powerline-based home networking technology. Atheros entered the powerline network market through its previous acquisition of Intellon in late 2009.
While much of the attention of the acquisition will center around its ability to better target WiFi to target cellular offload, tablet computers, and smart phones, Qualcomm also gains the side benefit of gaining entry into the burgeoning smart grid market which will connect smart meters, thermostats and even appliances to a Home Area Network (HAN) and then the utility's smart grid WAN. A growing number of large and regional utilities are rolling out Smart Grid programs that give consumers access to time of use programs that not only provide information on energy consumption, but discounts for using less energy during peak hours.
Of course, the other obvious driver of Qualcomm's move is it will enable it to more effectively compete against Broadcom and its growing portfolio of WiFi and powerline capabilities. Like Qualcomm, Broadcom has been aggressively building out its home networking capabilities with new WiFi and powerline capabilities via its acquisition of the former Gigle Networks.
Qualcomm is not exactly a novice in WiFi as it purchased the former WiFi silicon vendor Airgo Networks in 2006.
Although it's unclear if Qualcomm at the home networking capabilities that Atheros will add to its fold, it could be another complementary revenue replacement for the FLO TV service that it is in the process of selling to AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T).
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